Kristin Landau

My overall intellectual project challenges traditional ways of thinking about how states work, and about how archaeologists work within states. As an anthropologically trained archaeologist, I focus on the development of complex societies, and in particular the rise and dynamism of cities in Mesoamerica.

Since 2005, I have investigated the relationship between centralized power and everyday life at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Copán, in western Honduras. Copán was a major capital of trade, artistic innovation, hieroglyphic writing, and cultural exchange during the Maya Classic Period (AD 250-900). I conduct excavations in Copán’s urban neighborhoods, revealing how ordinary people’s households, religious shrines, monumental architecture, and the overall landscape changed over time from the perspective of local people. I am also committed to local people in the present-day town of Copán, and work together with government officials, highly trained technicians, students, and other community members. My long-term goal is to collaborate with indigenous actors toward community-driven archaeological research.

As an educator, I aspire to enrich student’s lives through the teaching and practice of archaeology. In Copán, I have taught introductory anthropology to a group of indigenous high school students. At Alma, I am teaching multiple courses that address how and why anthropology matters. In our current “post-truth” age, we need to adopt critical pedagogies that instill evidence-based reasoning, quality in written and oral communication, appreciation for diversity in all of its forms, and the experience of independent research. 

Interested? Have questions? Stop by or send an email!


Assistant Professor



Educational Background

PhD, 2016, Anthropology, Northwestern University

MA, 2011, Anthropology, Northwestern University

BA, 2007, Sociology & Anthropology, Colgate University

My career at Alma began in


My expertise:

I have conducted research in the following areas: anthropological and archaeological theory, collaborative archaeologies, social inequality, political economy, urbanism and cities, materiality, landscape archaeology, space/place, cosmology, and archaeoastronomy. I use several cross-disciplinary methods to answer my research questions, including ceramic analysis, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), compositional analysis (XRF), and soil chemistry.

Recent publications:

Gonlin, Nancy and Kristin Landau. Forthcoming. Maya on the Move: Population Mobility during the Classic Period in the Copán Valley, Honduras. In Ancient Mesoamerican Cities: Populations on the Move, ed. by M.Charlotte Arnauld, Gregory Pereira, and Christopher Beekman. Under contract with University Press of Colorado.

Landau, Kristin. 2015. Spatial Logic and Maya City Planning: The Case for Cosmology. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 25:275-292.

Richards-Rissetto, Heather and Kristin Landau. 2014. Movement as a Means of Social (Re)production: Using GIS to Measure Social Integration across Urban Landscapes. Journal of Archaeological Science 41:365-75.

Landau, Kristin and Fredy Rodríguez-Mejía. 2014. La Preservación de Patrimonio Cultural en Copán, Honduras: Un Nuevo Esfuerzo. XXVII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, edited by Bárbara Arroyo and Luis Méndez Salinas. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala City.

Dwyer, Brendan, Kristin Landau, Jaime Mazzeo, Harrison Newman and Tyson Seely. 2007. Recent Excavations and Interpretations of the Oneida Cameron Site. Bulletin of the Chenango Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association 30(1):104-128.

Landau, Kristin. 2007. Understanding Place Through Archaeoastronomy: A Cognitive Approach. Colgate Academic Review 1:25-82.

Recent presentations:

I generally present my research every year at the American Anthropological Association and Society for American Archaeology conferences. Check out my website for paper abstracts, and feel free to contact me for a copy.

  • 2018. The Dynamics of State Integration: A Neighborhood Perspective from San Lucas, Copán, Honduras. 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC, April.
  • 2017. The Power of Community Archaeology in the “Post-Truth” Era, co-chair and organizer, 116th Annual Meeting of American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC, November.
  • 2017. The Consequences of State Collapse: Evidence from the San Lucas Neighborhood during the Terminal Classic. 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, BC, Canada, April.
  • 2016. Urbanization and Ethnogenesis in the Borderlands: An Archaeological Case Study from Copán, Honduras. 115th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Minneapolis, November.

Recent grants:

  • 2013-15. National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, Award ID# 1330995.
  • 2013. InHerit Bi-directional Knowledge Exchange Grant.

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